Reclaimed Wood: A Lesson in History?

Reclaimed wood is wood which has been previously used (maybe it used to be an old barn, factory, ect.) that has been re-purposed in your home.  This is not a new idea, but it’s been gaining TONS of popularity in the past few years.  It’s an environmentally sound way to add a lot of character to your home.  The fact that it’s aged gives it a different, almost historical, aesthetic.  We’ve used it with recent clients and have been able to create a stunning blend of country chic.

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Reclaimed wood has so many uses throughout the home.  You can use it for flooring, decking, islands, cabinets, wall paneling, tables, countertops, shelves, ect. There are also so many different species of reclaimed wood, including some types like American chestnut and longleaf pine, which are no longer available as they aren’t abundant anymore.  It’s a renewable and sustainable resource because conceivably you could just continue to use it. It reduces deforestation and landfill waste.

A good dealer of reclaimed wood can also present you the history of where the wood came from.  This can be an interesting piece of knowledge and can add to the intrigue of the wood.  It means the wood has a story.

Reclaimed wood is also more durable because it often comes from older growth trees.  Much reclaimed wood came from trees that were 200-400 years old and were harvested in the 18th and 19th centuries when there was less pollution.  It has already expanded and contracted with age, and has become harder due to the elements.  This means you’d have a harder time damaging it and wouldn’t need to worry as much about the humidity around it.

Depending on the wood species, reclaimed wood can make your home LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, qualifying your home for special benefits.

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There are definitely some factors to consider when purchasing reclaimed wood which may be considered cons.  It’s hard to get the same aesthetic from new wood designs; however, because there is so much labor involved with harvesting reclaimed wood it is often more expensive.  Nails need to be removed, and the wood needs to be checked for pests and toxins.  There’s less involved with new wood.

Reclaimed wood also runs the risk of being treated with certain treatments from years past that may now be considered toxic.  In some cases, it may be difficult to determine whether these were used.  It’s a good idea to do your research on the risks of the wood you’re buying before you purchase it.

Since reclaimed wood is so popular and there aren’t an innumerable amount of old barns, factories, ect.- reclaimed wood is also becoming more scarce. This can make it harder to find for home owners.

You’d also need to make sure that you’re purchasing your wood from a reputable dealer. Some dealers make false claims about the source of their products, or they do a shoddy job preparing the wood. They might leave nails, and other things in the wood which can cause problems later on.

Despite this, we LOVE the idea of this environmentally friendly, beautiful and historical resource for your homes!

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

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